Remember to look for the helpers

By Melanie Yingst

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

The above quote was made by the late Fred Rogers best known for PBS’s Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, always comes to mind during the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, the day that more than 3,000 American citizens — fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, children and neighbors — were killed.

This week on, raw footage from the terrorist attacks was featured on the news outlet’s main page. While only a few seconds long, the camera footage captures the true heroes of that day — first responders, mainly firefighters — running into the World Trade Center towers despite the hazy smoke and the unknown danger which loomed ahead.

Loaded down wearing full gear, New York City Fire Department personnel are shown sprinting up escalators towards those who remained inside the buildings after the towers were struck by commercial aircraft on that fateful day.

In times of disaster, look for the helpers.

As with most Americans, Sept.11 had a personal impact on my life as a sophomore at Kent State University.

My cousin Debbie is a flight attendant and lost many co-workers and knew several pilots who lost their lives on Sept. 11.

Our small community also lost Alicia Titus, a Graham High School graduate who was a flight attendant on United Flight 175 that struck one of the World Trade Center towers.

While we may never know what happened in those airplanes, I’m sure passengers and those flight attendants were heroes and helpers in their own right before they were killed in the deadliest act of terrorism in U.S. history.

The Titus family has started The Alicia Titus Memorial Fund for Peace at Urbana University, where I earned my degree.

I fondly remember her father, John, a former dean of students of UU, who spoke of losing his eldest daughter on Sept. 11 during a presentation on the fifth anniversary of his daughter’s death.

Instead of being angry with the group of people responsible for his daughter’s death, his message of peace for the nation was surprising, yet humble.

The fund was set up in Alicia’s name “to spread the message of peace, justice, forgiveness, and hope; the essence of Alicia’s life and what she stood for.”

In times of peace, look for the helpers.

For more information about Alicia and the Alicia Titus Memorial Fund for Peace, visit

My brother-in-law is a colonel in the Air Force, stationed at the Pentagon. He’s already served this country in Afghanistan and many other places following the events of 9/11.

I’ve also have had the privilege of knowing many friends who have served our country following the acts of 9/11. They give their time and their lives to protect our freedoms each and every day.

In times of service, look for the helpers.

In remembrance of Sept. 11, I hope we continue to spread the message of peace despite the loss of many, and not encourage the loss of more lives or the loss of dignity to those who perished on that day.

So today, and in the days ahead, remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 in New York City, D.C. and in the Pennsylvania field.

And always remember to look for the helpers and be “comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News.